14-storey Southend apartment block set for approval

A landmark 14-storey block of flats proposed for the site of the old Churchills diner in Southend has been recommended for approval.

Southend City Council’s development control committee will decide on Tuesday whether to approve outline planning permission for 58 new homes on the site, in Tylers Avenue, which was Mangetout restaurant after Churchill’s closed.

Skarchitects, agent for the developer Vikesh Kotecha, has included a series of projecting balconies in the design.

It follows approval for a five-storey block of 22 flats on the site of the former New Empire Theatre in nearby Alexandra Street.

A total of 51 neighbouring properties have been consulted with no objections being received by the council.

The development, also designed by Skarchitects, will consist of one, two and three storey apartments.

As a member of the planning committee, Ron Woodley, Residents First councillor for Thorpe Ward, couldn’t comment on  a specific development but he has, in the past, suggested high rises be built in the city centre to cope with the growing need for housing.

He said: “Generally the more we can build homes within the city centre that helps the local businesses and shops. If they have to be apartments that’s fine because we haven’t got the space in Southend for every home to have its own garden.

“It depends on the mix of the properties to make sure we are building homes for families rather than single individuals.”

A report by planning officers said: “The principle of the development, including the provision of a tall building, the use of this land for a housing-led mixed use development, the housing mix and flood risk are acceptable.

“The proposed design and scale of the development would have an acceptable impact on the character and appearance of the site, the street scene and the wider surrounding area and the development would contribute to regeneration around within city centre.”

Planners acknowledged the loss of a mature London Plane tree, but they added: “The mature street tree needs to be removed in any event for highway safety reasons. That is proportionately weighed in the balanced assessment including the extent to which the developer should support tree removal costs and compensate the value of the street tree to support other planting in the city.”

The site has been vacant since 2021 when the previous one and two storey building was demolished and is currently surrounded by grey hoarding.

In their planning statement, Skarrchitects said: “The scale of the proposal creates an ambitious landmark for the city of Southend whilst providing high-levels of much needed housing.”

A financial contribution of £73,469 is required towards secondary education provision at Southchurch Academy Health Care. A financial contribution of £27,400 is also requested for the benefit of patients of the Primary Care Network operating in the immediate area.

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter